Thursday, November 04, 2004

Making Every Vote Count

Today I really wanted to take a break.

I am still digesting the results of the election, and no amount of Maalox will do. I am racking my brains (and my stomach is feeling the effects) in search of an answer. The only answer I have been able to come up with so far is one that I find entirely repugnant: If a president scorns all criticism, and repeats steadfastedly--to those who are predisposed to believe him--that God is on his side and that he has strong moral principles, he will be re-elected in spite of all contrary evidence.

I still hope that it was not the intention of 59 million Americans to re-elect this monstrous fraud of a president, and that Bush's re-election is the result of electoral shenanigans, to be unearthed by some corageous report later on. (Greg Palast, where are you?) Frighteningly enough, there are many who believe the president is doing a good job, and that he has good moral fiber. But if there was a larger number of voters who chose Kerry and a change in direction, we might never know. What if the exit polls were right, and the results have been manipulated? It wouldn't have been the first time.

This battle being over, and lost, the fight must continue. I am talking about the fight for change in this country. Number one on my agenda is true electoral reform.

It is totally absurd that different people in different parts of this country vote with different machines and different ballots, with different chances of their vote actually being counted. The presidential ballot should be the same all over the country. The machines should be the same all over the country, and they should work. (HAVA, the Help America Vote Act, still allows the use of punch card and lever machines, nor does it mandate the replacement of all obsolete machines. If you are interested in learning more about the subject, please go to Do you know that the voting system has not been reformed because it would cost TOO MUCH to replace voting machines in every polling station? Come again? We have the money to wage the reconstruction of entire countries, after we bomb them into the stone age, but we do not have the money to replace ALL obsolete voting machines? Only this administration would have sat on the problems of the 2000 election, so things could still be up in the air by the 2004 election.

If we want to make sure that the wounds in this country do not fester, we need to build a system where people can be sure that their will is going to count. No more hanging chads, no more e-voting machines that leave no record, no more confusing ballots. That is the starting point. That is the only point of defense we have against the brother of a President influencing one election, and against the CEO of a manufacturer of voting machines (Diebold) declaring "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." (Machine Politics in the Digital Age. NY Times. Nov 9, 2003.)

You might be thinking: What does electoral reform have anything to do with preventing a president from being re-elected, when 59 million people have voted for him? Haven't the people spoken? Isn't that what democracy is about, letting people speak, and accepting the will of the majority? That is exactly the point: If you want me and the rest of the minority to accept the will of the majority, you must be able to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the results of an election are the will of the majority and not the result of manipulation by those in power.

For the sake of our democracy, we must find a way to prevent this climate of doubt and suspicion from ever occurring again on the eve and in the aftermath of an election. The only way to do that is to ensure that people know that every vote does count.

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